Producer, composer, arranger, singer, & musician Robert Sadin has assembled a large cast of guest stars for his homage to the music of 14th century poet & composer Guillaume de Machaut, titled Art of Love-Music of Machaut. From the first listen of this CD, it was more than obvious that this recording was a labor of love for Sadin, as he and the guest musicians take these very old songs and give them new life, offering a blend of jazz, classical, and World Music flavors, preserving the original melodies and lyrics but adding in some new harmonies and solos. It's a very intoxicating listen from start to finish, and sure to please those with an open mind to all styles of music.
The emotional vocals of Milton Nascimento & Jasmine Thomas mesh with some lulling sax, keyboards, percussion, and guitars on the soothing opener "Love Without End", which then segues into the vibrant "Douce Dame", a rollicking jazz number featuring the dueling violin & cello lines of Mark Feldman and Charles Curtis, as well as the sultry sax melodies from Seamus Blake and John Ellis. This number also notable for the fine vocals of Hassan Hakmoun. "Natalie's Song" is a wonderful little song, with famed vocalist Natalie Merchant featured alongside the gentle guitar strumming of Romero Lubambo and percussion strains from Cyro Baptista. The Brazilian flavors of "Python" offer a more upbeat tone, thanks to the catchy vocals of Lionel Loueke and some jazz-funk arrangements, while the dark, somber "Tu, meu sonho vivo" again sees Nascimento return for a chilling performance over ominous cello, guitar, and sax. Sadin provides some almost prog-rock styled organ on the creepy "Comment", a song that also notable for some unique tribal percussion, Miles Davis influenced trumpet from Matt Shulman, and John Ellis' far reaching clarinet. Brad Mehidau's solo Fender Rhodes number "Brad's Interlude" will thrill fans of Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul, or Keith Jarrett, and the vintage jazz sounds of "Dame, si vous m'êtes lointaine" bring to mind the great sounds of the 40's and 50's, this one a nice vehicle for Sadin's vocals and Shulman's trumpet. Another nice jazz piece is "Force of Love", with Mehidau on glorious piano, and "Helas" features the stunning interplay between Lubambo's acoustic guitar and Curtis' cello.
Due to its varied nature, Art of Love-Music of Machaut is one of those albums you will need to go back to time and time again to fully appreciate. In the end, this is music that warms your soul and moves you on many levels. Sadin and his cast have done a fine job here, and regardless of whether you are familiar with the work of Machaut or not, this is one of those recordings that will definitely grow on you.
01. Love Without End
02. Douce Dame
03. Natalie's Song
05. Amour me fait désirer
06. Tu, meu sonho vivo
08. Brad's Interlude, after Solage (fl. late 14the century)
09. Dame, si vous m'êtes lointaine
10. Force of Love
11. Doux visage